The Expeditionary Elevated Sangar

Like many words that have found their way into the British Army’s common vocabulary Sangar has its origins in India. According to uncle Wikipedia it comes from the Persian for stone (san) and built (gar) although a more learned source describes a more complex origin;

The etymology of this word will be traced in Pushto and other languages of Indian sprachbund (Indian language union or linguistic area). Lahnda: sãgaṛh m. ʻ line of entrenchments, stone walls for defense ʼ.(CDIAL 12845) گ • (sang) m, Hindi spelling: संग stone, weight; association, union (Persian. Hindi)

Whatever the origin it was commonly used by the British Indian Army to describe a small temporary fortified position used on the North West Frontier where it was impossible to dig trenches.

The official description is;

A sangar is a protected sentry post, normally located around the perimeter of a base. Its main function is to provide early warning of enemy/terrorist activity/attack in order to protect forces both within the base and those deployed within sight of the sangar

Originally using stones and rocks the Sangar developed to include sand bags, construction materials and in some cases, concrete culvert pipes.

Wherever the British and Commonwealth Armies fought they would make use of sangars.

British troops manning a sangar in South Africa
British troops manning a sangar in South Africa
A Sangar at El Alemein - NZ Electronic Collection
A Sangar at El Alemein – NZ Electronic Collection
These sangars,on the plateau of the Jebel Akhdar, are being built using dry stone walling, and are superbly constructed by local villagers living on the Jebel Akdar.
These sangars,on the plateau of the Jebel Akhdar, are being built using dry stone walling, and are superbly constructed by local villagers living on the Jebel Akdar. (Image Credit – Flickr Brian Harrington)
A British sangar overlooking the Kajaki dam. Helmand Province, Afghanistan, April 2007.
A British sangar overlooking the Kajaki dam. Helmand Province, Afghanistan, April 2007. (Image Credit – Flickr James Birt)

The Britain’s Small Wars web site has good photographs of Argentine sangars around Stanley, click here

In Northern Ireland the sangar was developed even further to include RPG screens, bulletproof glass observation panels and sophisticated surveillance equipment.

Northern Ireland Sangar
Northern Ireland Sangar
Northern Ireland Sangar
Northern Ireland Sangar
RUC Station Crossmaglen
RUC Station Crossmaglen
RUC station, Keady, Co. Armagh, October 2001-March 2002.
RUC station, Keady, Co. Armagh, October 2001-March 2002
Super Sangar Removal Newton Hamilton Northern Ireland
Super Sangar Removal Newton Hamilton Northern Ireland

In Afghanistan the Sangar has been transformed by Hesco although wriggly tin, timber and sandbags are still in widespread use.

Hesco Sangar
Hesco Sangar
Hesco Sangar
Hesco Sangar
Hesco Sangar
Hesco Sangar
Sangar
Sangar
Sangar
Sangar

Stones and rocks are so last century and with the advent of Hesco and Defencell gabions the build times and resources used have greatly reduced.

They even get the occasional VIP visitor

Guardsman Paul Jackson on duty in one of the patrol base sangars talks to The Prince of Wales about life in Patrol Base Pimon.
Guardsman Paul Jackson on duty in one of the patrol base sangars talks to The Prince of Wales about life in Patrol Base Pimon.

The website of the Coldstream Guards has a good article on the Royal Engineers production of a Hesco Sangar, click here for some great before and after images.

In my post on Generic Base Architecture (GBA) and FOBEX I had a look at deployable Super Sangars and the Marshall Safebase system

Marshall Land Systems Safebase Armoured sangar at FOBEX
Marshall Land Systems Safebase Armoured sangar at FOBEX
Super Sangar
A complete range of Improved Army Operational equipment as used in Afghanistan and Iraq was demonstrated and displayed at Salisbury plain Wiltshire. Particular emphasis is placed protection as industry and the military work constantly together to update and counter evolving threats faced by the modern day Soldier. Pictured here is the Armoured Super Sanger with the Enforcer Remote Weapons System

Although not as sexy as the exotica on display at FOBEX the latest evolution of the humble sangar is the EES, the Expeditionary Elevated Sangar.

Cuplock Sangar
Cuplock Sangar

The EES is a prefabricated kit of parts with the elevation being taken care of by a Cuplock scaffold tower. Cuplock scaffolding has been used for many years in the Army but mainly for elevating water tanks, see the details on my post on water supply.

Royal Engineers Working at FOB Shawqat
Royal Engineers Working at FOB Shawqat

The Cuplock scaffolding and DuAl beam system (data sheets here and here)is made by Harsco Infrastructure (formerly SGB), a British company, although it is widely copied.

It uses an innovative node point that allows up to 4 components to be connected at the same point.

Cuplock Tower
Cuplock and DuAL Decking
Cuplock Tower
Cuplock Scaffold Node Point
Cuplock Tower
Cuplock Scaffold Node Point
Cuplock Tower
Cuplock Tower stairs

The loading jib on new Iveco Tracker Self Loading Dump Truck (Protected) is long enough to fill the Hesco bastion containers but where this or other long reach plant is not available they have to be filled by hand, lifting 16 tonnes of aggregate in bergens, nice!

2 Section, 7 Troop of 42 Field Squadron, 28 Engineer Regiment attached to 4 Armoured Engineer Squadron were tasked at Patrol Base Wahid at the beginning of October to construct a new section of perimeter wall from Hesco, remove the existing wall, strip out the existing Sanger and construct an EES (Expeditionary Elevated Sangar) in its place. Easy!!!!. Image Credit 21 Engineer Regiment
2 Section, 7 Troop of 42 Field Squadron, 28 Engineer Regiment attached to 4 Armoured Engineer Squadron were tasked at Patrol Base Wahid at the beginning of October to construct a new section of perimeter wall from Hesco, remove the existing wall, strip out the existing Sanger and construct an EES (Expeditionary Elevated Sangar) in its place. Easy!!!!. Image Credit 21 Engineer Regiment

The EES is a clever design because it minimises the use of labour and it is labour that is expensive. It also means that a finite number of always in short supply combat engineers can ‘do more’

So how much is one of these marvels of British military engineering?

We can get a few clues by looking at the military aid budget and export control publications. One source lists the cost of an EES at £25,942 and another describes how five of them cost £120,921.

All of them were gifted to Afghanistan.

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